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Travel to the Island of Socotra\Yemen

Updated on December 6, 2014

Explore the Island of Socotra:

Socotra (The Island of the Dragon's Blood Tree) is an amazing and unique island in the Indian Ocean South of Yemen. This rare island contains many rare plants, trees, insects, reptiles, birds and animals; many of the creatures in the island of Socotra cannot be found anywhere on earth except Socotra!

The island has become an interesting destination for its calm beaches, amazing landscapes, unique lifestyle, and the rare plants and animals.

Island of Socotra\Yemen

Getting Here

By plane:

The only and easy way to get to the island of Socotra is via its airport after one or two stops in the main land of Yemen. There are two local airlines provide flights from Sana'a – the capital of Yemen – and Mukalla – the capital of Hadhramout province – as well as Aden – the economic capital of Yemen, those airlines are Yemenia and Felix airways. Moreover, the Felix airways provides a direct line from Sharja in the United Arab Emirates with a transit in Mukalla airport – which also known as Rayan airport.

There is no regular or official way to sail to the island of Socotra, however, some locals use fishing boats to reach the island, but this 30 hours of sailing is not recommended for tourists.

Tickets cost from one of Yemen's airports is somehow between $80 and may raise to $150 for one way only, the prices depend on time and session of booking.

A beach in Qalansaya\Socotra

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A four wheel drive car and a tent in a beach-Socotra

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Get around:

Socotra is not just one island; it is an archipelago of four islands, Samha, Darsa, And Al Kory and the biggest one Socotra. Socotra is the main island and the capital of the archipelago which became an independence province in 2014.

Most attractions are in the Island of Socotra, a four wheel drive car is the popular vehicle for getting around. Hiking is also an option for adventure lovers, but rarely and hard.

The four wheel car can be rented with its driver as well as a guide from one of the many travel and tourism companies, the car costs around $100-$150\day without the guide who costs around $50\day.

There are no taxis or buses in the island, therefore, renting a car cannot be avoiding unless you are ready for hiking and stop locals in the street!

Discovering the island

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Trips:

Travel and tourism companies provide trips ranging from three days to ten days or more if a client request. The ideal time to be spent in the island is between four days to a week. Trips are ranging from camping in natural reserves, swimming and fishing, hiking and discovering.

A beach in Ras Shuab-Qalansaya

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Detwah natrural reserve

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Things to do:

Swimming:

Beaches of Socotra are amazing, they are calm and clear, and you can relax in its soft sand or swim in the warm water. The most famous beaches that are perfect for swimming and diving are Detwah, De Hamry and Ras Shuab.

The beach of Detwah is located in Detwah natural reserve in Qalansaya city – the second largest city in the island after Hadibu, which is about two hours away from Hadibu. Detwah natural reserve is a small lake as well as a very calm and soft beach, some rare trees and birds are also around the place.

There is a camp in the natural reserve, it provides tents and meals on demand for reasonable prices, bath rooms and clean water are also available at the camp.

In the middle between Hadibu and Qalansaya there is De Hamry natural reserve, the sand of De Hamry beach is not as soft as Detwah, otherwise it is a rich beach of fishes and coral reefs that make it a perfect beach for diving. The camp at the natural reserve provides dive tools, food and water and bathing at good prices, visitors can also hire a skilled diver for extra money.

Ras Shuab in the far west point of the island is one of the popular beaches; it is famous for its dolphins that you can swim with them! Visitors can have a cruise from the beach of Qalansaya to Ras Shuab for about $80 using a fishing boat. Dolphins herd can be seen all over the way swimming beside the boat. Fishing in this long beach – between Qalansaya and Ras Shuab – is also preferred for many visitors, the beach is rich in many types of fishes that making it a perfect fishing site and a great environment for sea birds that can been seen all over the beach.

Hiking:

There are too many valleys, hills and mountains, forests and caves spread over the island of Socotra, which all provide a wonderful environment for hiking.

The highlands of Dexam are the most famous mountains in the island, it is just a few kilometers away from Hadibu; it is famous for its forests of Dragon's Blood Tree which is the most famous tree in the island. Dexam highlands are a way to the highest summit in the island which known as Scand Mountain, and also a way to Drehar valley, the rich valley which is famous for its pool and palm trees.

Dexam highlands is amazing, there you can enjoy an unforgettable hiking between the Dragon's Blood Trees, palm trees and clouds!

The natural reserve of Frankincense trees in the east highlands of Socotra is another good place for hiking. There you can visit the forest of Frankincense trees and landscapes of the green pastures and traditional villages.

At the end of the Frankincense trees natural reserve there is a small pool overlooks the Arabian Sea and the Hala village where Hoq cave is located. It is long journey from the pool to Hoq cave where you should walk down from the mountain passing an amazing forest of very rare trees, and then walk up to the cave in the front other mountain.

Hoq Cave is one of the most famous caves in Socotra – beside other many caves spread over the island; it is located in Hala village east of the island. Visitors hike to the cave directly from the village or from the natural reserve of Frankincense trees – rarely. The journey from the valley to the cave takes more than one hour.

Socotra highlands

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Dexam Mountains

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A valley near Hadibu

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Hoq Cave

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Things to see:

The island of Socotra is one of the most rare and unique areas in the world; famous in rare plants and animals and wonderful landscapes. The following table gives an idea about the rich environment of Socotra.

Plants
Birds
Replies
Arthropods and molluscs
Mammals
825 species of thriving plants; 37% of these plants are settlement and has no instance in the world.
221 types of birds, which are important globally.
30 types of reptiles in Socotra; 27 of them cannot be found anywhere except Socotra.
50 known types of arthropods and molluscs and 5 habitation types of Thericleidae. There are also three types of marine cancers, in addition to a very big spider (human Palm-size) known as the monocentropus balfouri.
14 types of mammals in the island of Socotra such as camels, cattle, zebras, wildcats, goats, sheep and civet cat which known as “Al-zepad”.

And here are some of the most popular animals and plants that can be seen in the island:

Egyptian Vulture

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Egyptian Vulture:


The most famous bird in the island which is widely spread over the island. Egyptian Vultures roost communally on large trees, buildings or on cliffs. Roost sites are usually chosen close to a dump site or other suitable foraging area.

Green pasture

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Goats and sheep


Goats and sheep are the most common of all the mammals in the island. You can almost see them everywhere! Especially in the highlands, where the beautiful pastures, which thrive in the period between September and August each year.

Gull

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Gull

Gulls or seagulls are some of the most seabirds that can be seen in the island of Socotra. Most gull species are migratory, with birds moving to warmer habitats during the winter; and they come to Socotra thanks to the warm climate of the island.

Flamingo

Flamingo has a long beak and legs, feeds on small crustaceans, shellfish and small mollusks and algae in the lakes and beaches of Socotra.

Flamingo

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Frankincense Tree

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Frankincense Tree

Frankincense is a substance which is obtained from a tree and which smells pleasant when it is burned. It is used especially in religious ceremonies.

The Dragon’s Blood Tree

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The Dragon’s Blood Tree

The most famous tree on the island of Socotra is the dragon blood tree, or the brother’s blood tree. It is a rare tree looks like an umbrella.

People of Socotra have been using the resin of this tree for treatment, and paint utensils made ​​of clay, gluing pottery, a breath freshener, lipstick and finally in ritual magic. The root is used in rheumatism, as a stimulant, astringent and in toothpaste, as well.

More popular things to see:

Green turtles: In Qalansaya beach.

Dolphins: In Ras Shouab beach.

Pelicans.

The Socotry Shag.

Cisticola.

Rough-legged Buzzard.

The Starlings.

The Sunbird.

House Crow.

Civet cat.

Highlights information

Location
Indian Ocean
 
Coordinates
12°30′36″N 53°55′12″E
 
Archipelago
Socotra islands
 
Total islands
4
 
Width
50 km (31 mi)
 
Length
132 km (82 mi)
 

For more details about Socotra read my book Socotra; Story of the enchanted island!


Or watch my travel film Socotra; the island of Dragon's Blood Tree from the link below:

You can also email\contact me for more help or tours to the island, to do so please visit my website www.muneerbinwaber.com

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